Purchase five yards of 45” wide fabric. If the total of the waist measure + the waist to hem length is more than 44”, then purchase five yards of 60” wide fabric. You can tweak your yardage requirements after you make your first skirt.
I recommend you make a test skirt using cheap muslin fabric. Once you’ve made a skirt using these instructions you can redraw the pattern on a large piece of paper to use as a traditional pattern.
1. Cut the 5 yards of fabric in half so you have two 2 1/2 yard (90”) long pieces. If using 3 panels, cut the 5 yards of fabric in thirds so you have about 1 2/3 yard (around 60”) long pieces.
2. Fold each piece in half.
3. Draw the waistline curve: Measure around the fullest part of your hips or waist – whichever is larger – if you are inserting an elastic waistband. Measure around your waist if you are finishing the waist without elastic.
Find this measure in the hips column in the Waist Chart below. Choose either the 2 or 3 panel measure.
Example: I want to make a skirt with an elastic waist. My hips measure 35”. My waist measure is 5”.
Pin a length of ribbon to the top corner edge of the fabric. Measure out waist measure and tie the other end to a pencil. Use it as a compass to draw the waistline curve, shown in the image as a dotted blue line.
4. Draw the hemline curve: Measure from your waist (or where you want the skirt to start) down to where you want the skirt to end. Measure down the side of your body without bending over. Add 2” for the hem.
Example: I want my skirt to start at my waist and end just below my knees. With a plastic tape measure I measure from my waist, down the outside of my hip, to just below my knees. This measure is 25”. My total skirt length is 27” (25” + a 2” hem).
Mark this measure on the fabric starting at the end of the waist, shown in the image as solid red line. Pin a long length of ribbon to the top corner edge of the fabric. Measure out your waist measure PLUS your waist to hem measure and tie the other end to a pencil. Use it as a compass to draw the hemline curve, shown in the image as dotted red line.
Example: My waist measure is 5”. My waist to hem measure is 27”. The length of the ribbon from the top edge to the hemline curve is 32”.
WAIST CHART (in inches)
The Math: This chart calculates how wide the waist opening has to be to fit over your hips. The math for the waist measure is (hip measurement-(hip measurement*.10))/3.14/2. The .10 is to counter some the bias stretch resulting from a circular cut. The rest of the stretch is taken up by the 1/2” seam allowances.
An inset pocket is easily sewn into the seam allowance before the side seams are sewn.
1. Click here for my free pocket pattern. Cut two pocket pieces out of your fabric to make one pocket.
2. Mark and notch the side of your skirt 7” - 8” from the waist. Be sure to notch both sides at once.
3. Pin one pocket piece below the notch on one skirt side. Sew along the straight seam allowance, all across the pocket. Press out the seam allowance. Flip and press the pocket to the side. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for the other pocket and skirt panel.
4. Stack both pieces right sides together. Line up notch. Mark the bottom curve of the pocket. Draw in the seam allowance on the pocket.
5. Stitch along the entire length of the seam allowance from the waist, around the pockets, and down to the hem. Press open straight stitching seam allowances.
6. Turn inside out. Admire your new inset pocket!
Using french seams? Click for my tutorial on how to insert a pocket using french seams.
Sew or serge the two side seams with a 1/2” seam allowance. Leave the top 5-6” of the seam open if you are using a waistband (non-elastic). Using french seams? Click for my tutorial on how to finish a skirt opening using french seams.
There are various ways to finish the waist:
Here are several different hem techniques:
- simple hem using Gertie’s technique
- use a rolled hem foot with your straight stitch machine
- attach a ruffle to the bottom of hem
- fold the hem to the right side and cover with trim.
- serge the bottom edge, fold to inside and sew down with a straight stitch.
- serge the bottom edge with a finished rolled hem.